August 30, 2010 Subject:
Balanced but not bland
The Costas interview is the prelude. The doc about Leary and Liddy debates is complex, not binary. Punctuated with them at lunch and other places. Both seem like smart interesting funny guys, despite their mutual reputations. Leary gets my vote for more evolved views. Would love to know if he was ever able to convince G Liddy to try LSD, and if so, what Liddy thought. Cognitive Liberty!
December 5, 2008 Subject:
a rare find
The Costas interviews are among the few ever taped for mainstream TV that give Leary a fair hearing, and I wonder whether they were ever broadcast ... ?
but "Return Engagement" is the real jewel here. this documentary of the Leary/Liddy debates in the early 80s is an astonishing bridge between eras, and one can already see the widening gulf which became the "Culture War" in audience members' fervent loyalty to either Leary or Liddy.
Reagan's systematic rollback of social progress made during the 60s/70s succeeded but never realized its ultimate goal of erasing the memory & very existence of the era. "Return Engagement" was singled out for criticism using Leary and Liddy as exhibits A and B of the frivolity and lack of core beliefs and depths of the generation. The real purpose, went the criticism, was to begin the legal and professional rehabilitation of two convicted felons as "2nd rate performers".
But watching the film, one is struck by the amount of mutual respect and even warmth between these erstwhile enemies. Despite disagreeing on almost every important political and cultural idea of the past 2 generations. Maybe prison had taught them, in Robert Anton Wilson words that "Convictions cause Convicts."
To me the film is a tribute to the best things to come out of the counterculture, creative disagreement, humor to break through ideology, and how despite our differences, we can retain our humanity, civility and integrity.